How do you know that you are adjusted to a new place? When you do a victory fist pump for an errand that once caused you stress and now seems like second nature.
When I first moved to Bogota, grocery shopping was a challenge. Where were the best places to buy? What prices are reasonable? What is that thing and should I eat it? Should I go to a variety of little shops or get everything in one place? What was once second nature (heading to WINCO) now was a chore… for about a month. Then we found our groove and shopping for food is as normal here as it was in Oregon.
There are other things that take longer to adjust to. For us lately, it has been the ability to navigate the health care system. Ed is going in for bimaxillary (2 jaw) surgery next week and in preparation for this procedure, there are a lot of little steps we must take in order to be ready.
I come from a culture of convenience. One stop shopping is the norm. Have you been to target? or Wal mart? or Fred Meyer? You can get clothing, food, hygiene items, electronics, and even dog food all without leaving the door. Or take hospitals and doctors offices. You can get your blood test done, see a specialist with only a quick appointment, or get you prescriptions sent directly from the office to the pharmacy.
Colombia is different. We go to one office for photographs and molds. Then to another office across the street to take a blood test. Our orthodontist is a 15 minute bus ride away. And the clinic where the surgery takes place is somewhere else.
At first this “running around” frustrated me. I didn’t always know where to go, what to ask, and how to make sure the results got where they needed to be. It was hard work and different from what I was used to in the States.
We had a moment a few months ago where Ed needed a blood test so we went after school. We arrived to the clinic after being lost on the same block for 20 minutes in the afternoon. I went to the receptionist and explained what we needed. She looked at me confused and asked if we were there to pick up results. I said, no we haven’t done the test yet. She then looks at me like I am the dumbest person in the world and tells me “blood tests are only in the morning”. Apparently that was common knowledge to everyone but us. We left and made plans to return the following morning- which we did with success.
Living in a new place there are so many little things that don’t always come easy when you are from the outside. I have decided though, to try to look at the big picture and not to let frustration overwhelm me. By having one place to give blood samples one clinic can serve 100s of doctors without the doctors having to purchase the supplies needed for the occasional blood test. By having photos and molds constructed in one office, they can have higher quality equipment that is used on a frequent basis rather than an individual office hoping they can afford the tools they need. Even the clinic our surgery will be in is specialized in the equipment that the doctor needs for this particular type of surgery.
So although this means more running around for us the patient, the doctors are able to have exactly what they need and provide the best care possible. What’s different is not always wrong. There is logic and a system. From the outside the system is confusing and frustrating, but in reality it does work!
And this week when we went back to the clinic for more tests we knew to go in the morning and it was a 10 minute process! *first pump*